Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Casinos despise - and fear - progressive betting because it encourages players to break free from the herd and play a different game.


(For updated information about Target's ongoing sports betting experiment, please go to the Sethbets website, or click here for an introduction to progressive betting, and here [20] and here [5] for current picks)

I have been having an interesting time for the past few days, signing on with a baccarat forum and discovering once again how worked up some people can become when the status quo is threatened.

I am particularly entertained by a house defender who picked a small sample of outcomes with a 49% plus house advantage, then "played" Target Betting until his bets exceeded 100,000 units.

That would be a million bucks in today's Las Vegas, where it's almost impossible to find minimums below $10.

All anyone has to do to test the gambling industry's attitude to progressive betting is to sit down at a blackjack or baccarat table and play a Martingale or double-up, the easiest and most dangerous betting strategy ever invented.

Within a few minutes, a Martingale punter will be singled out for a special chat, usually with the dealer offering friendly advice first, then with a pit boss stepping up to say hello.

This is a standard response, as is the facile argument that once a table limit is reached, the Martingale bettor is in big trouble.

From a $10 start, it takes seven consecutive losses to get to $640 and be in a situation where if the bet loses, the next required bet ($1,280) will probably exceed the table limit.

No problem. Double-up players have to carry large bankrolls, and as long as the casino isn't standing alone in Podunk, ID or wherever, it's easy enough to move to a richer layout where the next bet will be accepted.

If the casino you're in doesn't offer higher limits at other tables, the joint next door or across the street probably will (hence my reference to isolated operations that have no nearby competition and can do what they darn well choose!).

Tough talk, perhaps, but progressive betting wins frequently and builds an ever-stronger bankroll really fast.

And that, of course, is why casinos hate it, and spend a lot of time and money deriding it in any public forum available to them, from the table where you sit to every online gambling discussion group in the world.

Double-up players generally don't sit still for more than a couple of consecutive losses anyway, because they don't want to have to keep dealing with "friendly advice" and other time-wasting interference.

I have been through this rigmarole more times than I can remember, just for the fun of it.

And the really fun part is that the pit staff you encounter will always tell you that their advice is for your own good, not the house's.

Meanwhile, drunks and other fools who don't know better are losing money all around you, and no one in a smart suit steps up to offer them "advice"!

Let me repeat that I don't endorse double-up. It really is a dangerous play at times.

But I have been watching "Martingalers" for years, and can understand why they particularly like blackjack and craps.

A winning bet recovers all prior losses in a series, plus one unit - but it does much better if a 3-2 natural or a field number paying 2x or 3x comes good on a big-bucks bet.

Most people don't (or won't) accept that how you play any game matters a lot less than how you bet, and so a guy who bellies up to a blackjack table, loses two bets in a row, then moves on, is resented as an unwelcome interruption to some mythical pattern.

I get that. Blackjack players in particular like to delude themselves that their ultimate fate depends on their hit or stand decisions and that's OK, of course.

It's wrong, but it's OK.

The beauty of progressive betting (and of course I'm going to add especially with Target) is that you can happily bounce from table to table and game to game without giving a thought to perceived trends.

You need two winning bets in a row to make money - that's all. And those paired or twinned wins are very common indeed.

Far more so than 7 consecutive losses, that's for sure.

Some numbers: In a -1% game (blackjack), you have a 49.5% chance of winning one hand, and a 24.8% chance of winning twice; on the obverse, you have a 50.5% of losing, a 25.25% chance of losing twice, and the number for seven losses in succession is...0.008% or 125 to 1 in your favor.

Longer losing streaks than that happen all the time, of course. And that's why Target freezes bets after a certain point, and in some modifications may even halve them.

(I can predict that as always, someone will step forward to lecture me about how the cards, dice, wheel etc. have no memory, and the odds of winning any one bet at any one time are always the same as the bet before and the one coming up. That's only a relevant factor for the 99% of gamblers who bet fixed amounts or apply a limited spread, and those who bet randomly. Progressive players are thinking in terms of groups or series of bets and are concerned with pairs or streaks either way).

There's a wonderful sense of freedom that comes with Target Betting, or progressive betting, or money management or whatever name you choose to give your preferred method of winning consistently.

You don't have to sit still when a table or a shoe suddenly turns unfriendly.

You don't have to achieve recovery hereandnowinagreatbigrush either - you can afford to take your time.

The best approach is to be a perennial loser in some casinos, where tight table limits apply, and to be as low-key as possible in fancier joints where you recover your losses time and time again.

My "local" maxes out at $300, so as a rule I'll play until I'm $200 or so in the hole, then shelve my red numbers (LTD for loss to date and NB for next bet) until I can bet at a higher level elsewhere without raising eyebrows.

Hey, sometimes I actually win at the cheap joint in town, and can enjoy the company of the friends I have made there over the years without feeling guilty.

Am I a zillionaire? Nope, because just like most of my readers, I have a limited budget and bills to play that have a nasty habit of eroding my BR week by week so I have to work to build it back up again.

But progressive betting, Target-style, is a game-changer for anybody with a sensible amount behind them (I'd say $5,000 minimum) and the discipline to follow a simple set of rules.

And the game changes from a losing one to a winning one, over and over again.

In this space - and more recently, in the baccarat forum - I have posted countless examples of how a very wide betting spread will time and again demand a smaller average bet than sticking within a tight betting range, as most people do.

My models have shown that it's not at all unusual for a 1-5,000 spread to require less overall action than a 1-50 range, and sometimes it's "safer" than a 1-10 spread.

That's because the lower your max, the quicker you'll get there, and the longer you will have to keep betting at that level until you either recover your prior losses or (more likely) bust out.

There's nothing sinister going on here. Just arithmetic.

In case anyone's interested, the back-and-forth on the baccarat forum prompted me to create two new web pages, one devoted to that sample with a 49% house edge, and the other dealing with a flip from betting Player all the time to betting Banker only.

Baccarat's not my favorite game - slow, pretentious, mind-numbing - but it's where the big money is, and I have to partake from time to time.

One regular BP poster went so far as to accuse me of "reverse engineering" 270,000 verifiable baccarat outcomes (from Zumma Publishing and the Wizard of Odds) to create Target Betting, totally ignoring the fact that Target has been available on the Internet since 1997 and on this website since early in 2009.

Oh well. There are zealots out there who are very protective of the mythical magic of the house advantage, pursuing some mysterious agenda by taking potshots that ignore both truth and common sense (accuracy, too!).

But it's a free country, and people who don't want to be right have the right to be wrong, defending their stand by whatever means they choose.

An important reminder: The only person likely to make money out of this blog is you, Dear Reader. There's nothing to buy, ever, and your soul is safe (from me, at least). Test my ideas and use them or don't. It's up to you. One more piece of friendly advice: If you are inclined to use target betting with real money against online "casinos" such as Bodog, spend a few minutes and save a lot of money by reading this._